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Cameron Lancaster registered his second Louisville City FC hat trick Saturday as the club cruised past visiting Memphis 901 FC by a 3-1 score at Lynn Family Stadium. But the celebration couldn’t begin in earnest — not yet, at least.
A victory set up the boys in purple for a winner-take-all showdown with Birmingham Legion FC for a USL Championship Central Division title to cap the regular season. The two meet next Saturday in Birmingham in a game that will also award a No. 1 playoff seed.
Lancaster’s heroics — in front of 10,900 fans — lifted LouCity’s record to 17-7-7, good for 58 points. Birmingham sits on 57 but plays Sunday before meeting City, meaning a draw may not be enough next weekend for the boys in purple.
“It’s important that we take three points here,” said head coach Danny Cruz. “Every time we have a game here, it just feels so special and the atmosphere is amazing. I’m proud of the group to obviously score multiple times tonight. I’m really proud of Cam.
“Again, there’s issues that we need to continue to address — certainly unhappy with (allowing) the goal five minutes left in the half. I can tell you that we’ve spoken about it over and over again and talked about different ideas and things that we need to do. Very unhappy with the conceding there, but at the same time, Cam with a wonderful strike puts us in a good position going into halftime.
“Ultimately, as I started with, it’s three points here at home and in the driver’s seat going to Birmingham next week.”
LouCity will head into that one with its top scorer humming. Lancaster scored in a variety of ways against Memphis to boost his season total to 20 goals, good for third in the league behind only Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC’s Hadji Barry (25) and Tampa Bay Rowdies Sebastian Guenzatti (21).
In the 21st minute, Lancaster headed in a cross from defender Jonathan Gomez. Three minutes into first half stoppage time, he pulled from about 40 yards out, with a knuckling shot fooling Memphis’ goalkeeper. And in the 65th minute he finished a penalty earned by Gomez to round out a career night.
It made for the most goals in a game by Lancaster since the first time he made it a hat trick in purple in a 6-4 win over New York Red Bulls II on Aug. 10, 2018, amid the striker’s Golden Boot campaign.
“You have to go into every game thinking that you’re going to get multiple goals,” Lancaster said. “You have to. After the first one you’re not happy and hungry for more. That’s basically my mentality going in."
A native of England, Lancaster came up through the Tottenham Hotspur academy and logged minutes in a Premier League game before heading stateside to join LouCity’s inaugural roster. He’s been here ever since outside of a 2019 season in which the forward ventured to Nashville SC ahead of its Major League Soccer expansion.
Memphis managed just one answer to Lancaster, equalizing in the 41st minute when a cross bounded through the box and to Michael Salazar for a headed finish. Not long after, Lancaster’s wonder strike moved LouCity back ahead for good.
“I thought that if I could hit it nice and clean, which I did, it would sort of move in the air,” Lancaster said. “I felt bad for the keeper because it’s a tough one to deal with, but thankfully it went in. Most importantly, we got the three points at the end of the night.”
The victory snapped a two-game losing skid for City, with both those defeats away. The club has already locked up an all-important home start to the postseason the first weekend of November. Final weekend games will set seeding and matchups.
Game Summary: Louisville City FC vs. Memphis 901 FC
Date: Oct. 23, 2021
Venue: Lynn Family Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Weather: 63 degrees, showers
Man of the Match: Cameron Paul Lancaster
Louisville City FC (2, 1, 3)
Memphis 901 FC (1, 0, 1)
Louisville City FC:
21’ Cameron Lancaster (Jonathan Gomez)
45+’ Cameron Lancaster (Corben Bone)
65’ Cameron Lancaster
Memphis 901 FC:
41’ Michael Salazar (Kadeem Dacres)
Louisville City FC: 1 – Chris Hubbard, 19 – Oscar Jimenez (86’ 15 – Patrick McMahon), 4 – Sean Totsch, 6 – Wesley Charpie, 42 – Jonathan Gomez, 13 – Corben Bone (86’ 3 – Alexis Souahy), 11 – Niall McCabe, 36 – Paolo DelPiccolo (79’ 64 – Carlos Moguel Jr.) 10 – Brian Ownby, 9 – Jorge Gonzalez Asensi (79’ 29 – Antoine Hoppenot), 17 – Cameron Lancaster (82’ 21 – Kyle Greig)
Subs not used: 24 – Parker Siegfried, 20 – Jimmy McLaughlin
Head Coach: Danny Cruz
Memphis 901 FC: 22 – Cody Cropper, 50 – Niall Logue (69’ 3 – Zach Carroll), 5 – Brecc Evans, 33 – Skyler Thomas, 18 – Dominic Oduro (79’ 88 – Max Talley), 23 – Leston Paul (69’ 19 – Dre Fortune), 10 – Kadeem Dacres (69’ 20 – Roland Lamah), 30 – Laurent Kissiedou, 77 – Alan Winn, 16 – Rashawn Dally, 11 – Michael Salazar
Subs not used: 28 – Brady Scott, 36 – Andre Reynolds, 9 – Kyle Murphy
Head Coach: Ben Pirmann
Stats Summary: Louisville City FC / Memphis 901 FC
Shots: 6 / 9
Shots on Goal: 5 / 3
Possession: 53.8% / 46.2%
Fouls: 12 / 14
Offside: 2 / 4
Corner Kicks: 3 / 1
Louisville City FC
25’ Brian Ownby (yellow card)
Memphis 901 FC
36’ Kadeem Dacres (yellow card)
70’ Laurent Kissiedou (yellow card)
Referee: Joshua Encarnacion